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NOTE: This question is NOT a duplicate of this question. I am asking whether Dvijas can read translations of Vedas done by Mlecchas, and that other question doesn't even talk about it.

Are Dvijas allowed to read translations of the Vedas done by Mlecchas (Westerners)?

Mlecchas are prohibited from reading, studying, or listening to the Vedas. Are Dvijas (Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas) allowed to read their translations of the Vedas?

The English translation of the Vedas on sacred-texts are done by Mlecchas.

Or is it sinful?

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This question can not be answered from the scriptures in my opinion. I am answering according to what Swami Vivekananda thought about it.

Source: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 6/Conversations and Dialogues/IX

According to Swami Vivekananda, Max Muller, who translated the Vedas, was the rebirth of the Vedic commentator Sayana.

The disciple of Vivekananda objects to that and says how is it that Sayana, instead of getting born in the holy land of Bharata, got born (in his next birth) in a so called Mleccha country?

To which Swamiji's reply was that when a person is capable enough to do a task, as difficult as translating the Vedas, why look for his caste? That he is already capable and qualified his effort only shows.

For the last ten days, the disciple had been studying Sâyana's commentary on the Rig-Veda with Swamiji, who was staying then at the house of the late Babu Balaram Bose at Baghbazar. Max Müller's volumes on the Rig-Veda had been brought from a wealthy friend's private library. Swamiji was correcting the disciple every now and then and giving him the true pronunciation or construction as necessary. Sometimes while explaining the arguments of Sayana to establish the eternity of the Vedas, Swamiji was praising very highly the commentator's wonderful ingenuity; sometimes again while arguing out the deeper significance of the doctrine, he was putting forward a difference in view and indulging in an innocent squib at Sayana.

While our study had proceeded thus for a while, Swamiji raised the topic about Max Müller and continued thus: Well, do you know, my impression is that it is Sayana who is born again as Max Müller to revive his own commentary on the Vedas? I have had this notion for long. It became confirmed in my mind, it seems, after I had seen Max Müller. Even here in this country, you don't find a scholar so persevering, and so firmly grounded in the Vedas and the Vedanta. Over and above this, what a deep, unfathomable respect for Sri Ramakrishna! Do you know, he believes in his Divine Incarnation! And what great hospitality towards me when I was his guest! Seeing the old man and his lady, it seemed to me that they were living their home-life like another Vasishtha and Arundhati! At the time of parting with me, tears came into the eyes of the old man.


Disciple: But, sir, if Sayana himself became Max Müller, then why was he born as a Mlechchha instead of being born in the sacred land of India?

Swamiji: The feeling and the distinction that I am an Aryan and the other is a Mlechchha come from ignorance. But what are Varnâshrama and caste divisions to one who is the commentator of the Vedas, the shining embodiment of knowledge? To him they are wholly meaningless, and he can assume human birth wherever he likes for doing good to mankind. Specially, if he did not choose to be born in a land which excelled both in learning and wealth, where would he secure the large expenses for publishing such stupendous volumes? Didn't you hear that the East India Company paid nine lakhs of rupees in cash to have the Rig-Veda published? Even this money was not enough. Hundreds of Vedic Pundits had to be employed in this country on monthly stipends. Has anybody seen in this age, here in this country, such profound yearning for knowledge, such prodigious investment of money for the sake of light and learning? Max Müller himself has written it in his preface, that for twenty-five years he prepared only the manuscripts. Then the printing took another twenty years! It is not possible for an ordinary man to drudge for fortyfive years of his life with one publication. Just think of it! Is it an idle fancy of mine to say he is Sayana himself?

So, according to Vivekananda, there is nothing wrong in reading such translations.

And, moreover, we also do not have other options, unless we educate ourselves in our own language and make ourselves capable enough to translate the Vedas. Only then we can stop relying on the foreigners for making our own scriptures understandable to us.

  • Where was Sayana born? – Ikshvaku Feb 11 at 12:49
  • I hv given wiki link for him.. did u chk? @Ikshvaku – Rickross Feb 11 at 12:50
  • Sayana was born to Mayana (IAST: Māyaṇa) and Shrimati in a Brahmin family that lived in Hampi. @Ikshvaku – Rickross Feb 11 at 12:50
  • Sayana was born in India, Vijayanagar empire which was a hindu kingdom – Ikshvaku Feb 11 at 12:51
  • Yes so? @Ikshvaku – Rickross Feb 11 at 12:52

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